BBQ Rib Smoking For Dummies

Smoking Ribs Like a Pitmaster Even Tho You're Not

You're a man. And you like ribs. Or maybe you're not a man, but you still like ribs, however you lack the confidence to pull off this culinary feat with any grace, nor aptitude. You have a grill sitting in the back yard that you have relegated to hot dog duty, wagering you have not yet , not ever will attain the pitmaster mojo to even consider a rack of ribs. Well your wrong. Here is how you do it, and what you need, to make a pitmaster quality rack of ribs, even tho you have not a clue on earth what you're doing. 

Get yourself the following:

One rack of ribs from your local grocer

One roll of tin foil

One jar of rib rub

A bag of wood chips or chunks found in the grilling section of any box store

And a bottle of your favorite juice.


The Process

Light your grill while you prepare your meat. Charcoal grills will give you a better flavor, but if you must do it with gas, then so be it. That is what the wood is for. 

While the grill is getting up to temp, and your faith that you can do this is questionable, take your ribs and rinse them off. There is a long-standing notion in the BBQ realm that you must remove the membrane from the ribs. The membrane is a tough layer of tissue adhering to the ribs tighter than a tick to a hound dog. Now I was going to go into the process of how to remove it, but that would only complicate your life. The push of this article is to show you how easy ribs are, so that's how it will be. There is an old pitmaster trick you can do to solve the membrane problem, and that is simply to take a sharp knife and score the membrane repeatedly, which in turn renders it completely edible during the smoking process. 

After scoring the membrane, the next step is to apply your rub if choice all over the rack, including the sides. Take your time. Make it pretty. Taking your time is what smoking ribs is all about you see. For those who smoke ribs are the same sort of folk who often take the scenic route. Or drive in the slow lane, just because. You're in no hurry, especially when it comes to ribs. The old BBQ adage, "it's done when it's done" is your mantra of choice. Anyways, I've digressed. Once your ribs have been dutifully rubbed, go ahead and take them out to the grill. If you're doing them in the oven or crock pot, you've come to the wrong article.

Your grill should have a lid on it, to help control heat. Your looking for an oven type environment here, not an open-pit camp fire or the like. Place your ribs on the rack, bone side down, over indirect heat, meaning well away from the coals or burner. This is the hallmark move of a seasoned grillmaster, and if your neighbors come over right then, you can woo them with your indirect heating technique. Not that your neighbors won't be showing up anyways, once they catch wind of what your up to. Ribs make friends, and you'll just have to get used to it. 

Next step, and this one is important if you seek true BBQ marksmanship, is to place a chunk of wood directly on the coals, or burner. If you bought the little chips, you should soak them for an hour or so in a pail of water, and then wrap a hand full of them tightly in tin foil, popping a few holes in the foil so the smoke can get out. Hickory and mesquite are your go to smoke woods of choice, but apple and alder are just as well. But if your feeling totally inept, and odds are you might be, just go take some branches that fell of your neighbor's maple tree and use those. He won't care, cause he's coming over later anyways remember. Close the lid on your grill, and go think about your life or something. Let cook for 3 hours.

In 3 hours, whence you've had a good nap in the hammock or the like, return to your grill and take a look. What you're looking for is to see if the meat has pulled away from the bone yet. If it looks like the meat has drawn back, exposing more bone than it once did, your about ready for the next step. A half-inch is about right, of exposed bone. If you're not seeing that, flip the lid back on and check every half hour until you do. Once you have a half-inch of bone showing, it's time to foil it.

Plop your rack of ribs a suitable sized sheet of foil, but before you wrap it, grab your bottle of favorite juice, take a swig for yourself,  then splash half a cup or so over the ribs, then finish wrapping them in the foil. Return them to the grill. Let them do their thing for 1 1/2 hours while you do yours. Sitting on the couch with a lovely beverage whilst watching the big game. Or barring that, another nap. What is happening here is your ribs are getting the royal treatment, a steam bath, and this is what is going to make them fall off the bone tender, and yourself a BBQ legend in your own mind. It's all good. 

An hour and a half in the foil is all it takes, at which you should take them out of the foil, and lay them back on the grill, indirect again. You know the moves. Enter the final stage of the process. Lightly brush your ribs now in your favorite sauce and let them cook a half hour longer. They are done. Retain your slobbers so they don't fall on your meat, less your guests disapprove. No need to add any more smoke wood, that first chunk or two at the beginning is all you need. Anyways, after a half hour, plate the ribs. Notice how the aroma follows you in the house, and how the heads will turn when you walk in with your creation.  The smoke, along with the rub you put on, and the BBQ sauce here at the end will give your  ribs a favorable flavor profile not soon to be out done. Just ask your neighbor.



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